The trials, tribulations, and aspirations of media companies trying to make smartphone apps work for their most loyal readers are the focus of a report by the International News Media Association (INMA), titled “Smartphone App Lessons for Media Companies.”

The report offers 19 case studies of media companies in Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and the South Pacific, aiming to sync smartphone app plans to their local digital ecosystems.

Over and over across the case studies, media companies reported: 

  • Why the focus on smartphone apps over mobile Web. 

  • The work-in-progress thought process on which apps to develop. 

  • The involvement of social media.

  • A potpourri of 23 apps being developed. 

  • Chaotic ups and down in strategy and reasons for prioritisation.

Smartphone apps have become the No. 1 platform for media companies to deliver value to their most engaged and loyal readers. Yet the money is slow in developing. 

The report’s value is less in the smartphone app results than the discussion, debate, and struggles to fit smartphone apps into a media company’s bigger digital strategy. The results are uneven across companies.

“The smartphone app report injects INMA members into the heart of discussions at peer media companies,” says Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA. “What you come away with are ideas, benchmarks, goals, and a lot of new material to bring into strategic discussions. With so many apps being developed the past three years, it’s illustrative to see the ideas that are surviving.”